A Summer of Strange Sightings
by Art Straub

Surely this will be known as the summer of strange sightings and discoveries!!! The oddities began in May with the finding of the armadillo on Main Street, Henderson. Yes, for new readers, children came upon a fully grown member of this armored family on the streets of this quiet little town, very dead, squished and over flowing with bird seed, indicating he/she might have been living off the bird-lovers of this far city. By the way, after all interested Hilltop School students had viewed the corpse, we buried the same at the base of the large crabapple tree west of the school. Be sure to notice the FANTASTIC production of little apples on the tree. The birds will eat extremely well come late winter and early spring courtesy of armadillo juices and minerals.

We will not identify most of the bearers of the following tales, as to protect their good names and protect the innocents. But we do hereby certify that all were sober and sane at the time of their encounters. Three spottings were made of the baboon of Tyrone Township, just across the Minnesota River from Henderson. Yes, a strange creature resembling a large monkey was encountered again and again in June. On one occasion the hairy mammal was observing leaping from a ditch while attempting to catch a passing bird! After the corn and soybeans reached knee length, the mystery animal was not seen again. Perhaps when harvest begins????

These discoveries were followed by the arrival of a pair of love birds which settled in at a home on Fifth Street, Henderson. After numerous newspaper adds and inquiries, the birds are now living in luxury in LeSueur.

In July, a pair of Nature Neighbor buddies came upon an absolutely gorgeous goldfish in a shallow pond adjoining the Minnesota River. They turned the creature over to this writer for safekeeping. We piled it with a handsome fishbowl, a beautiful water plant, the finest fish food money could buy, adequate oxygen and placement out of the sun, it promptly turned belly up! So much for luxury living after the excitement of the Minnesota River.

One afternoon during the summer a Hendersonite was using the designated detour to Jessenland, avoiding the road construction. While in the vicinity of the Vampire Valley area, our traveler glanced sideways out her auto window, and noted an emu running along beside her, seemingly without a care in the world. As far as she is aware, the emu is still running, and so is her car.

Not long ago, folks in the Blakeley area were amazed to discover an elk grazing amicably in a meadow. As of this writing we are unaware of how that story ends. 

Most know that we've been around some sixty-two years, thus when Tiffany Culbert announced her discovery of a mouse near her house hopping wildly to elude the family cat, we smugly asked her to bring the little body to school, that we might quickly identify the mammal which was most probably a vole or shrew. These critters have experienced a population explosion this summer. Imagine our amazement when Tiffany presented us with a mousling unlike any we have ever experienced!

The beautiful brown and tan flecked creature had an exceptionally long tail, and hind legs about four times the length of its front legs. In that our mammal resource library leaves much to be desired, we telephoned faithful John Schadweiler of the New Ulm DNR. Sight unseen, he speculated that Tiffany's little buddy was a kind of "jumping" mouse.

With this clue, we ascertained that the beautiful tiny mammal is probably a woodland jumping mouse. Therefore that's the tag we'll place on it until we place it in the hands of an expert on the subject.

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Center for Global Environmental Education
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